The pilot implementation process of the Early Warning System (EWS) on Harmful Aquatic Organisms and Pathogens (HAOP) in ports has started on 25 February 2022 as an online event, organized by the COMPLETE PLUS project partner, the Marine Research Institute of Klaipeda University (MRI_KU), Lithuania. The aim of EWS is to reduce the risk of spreading HAOP by minimizing the uptake and discharge of ballast water which could be harmful to the recipient port or area. The recent Baltic Sea Action Plan 2021 calls to “Establish by 2024 and subsequently implement the early warning system in case of the introduction of invasive species in ports”. This is why the pilot implementation of the EWS is of high political relevance in the Baltic Sea region.
In the Baltic Sea Region (BSR), granting of permissions for IWC is in the responsibility of national or even local administrations, depending on the country. One outcome of the COMPLETE project was that there is no common understanding of the regulation of IWC and no common basis for the granting of permissions. Thus, as part of the COMPLETE PLUS project and as important addition to the proposed HELCOM Biofouling Management Roadmap, BSH (Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency) developed a proposal for a harmonized risk assessment procedure as basis for permissions of in-water cleaning (IWC) of ships by taking into account three relevant environmental impacts of IWC:
- Risk of species introduction (biosecurity risk)
- Risk of biocide input
- Risk of particle input
The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention) of the International Maritime Organization was adopted to reduce the spread of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens via ballast water and sediments. Regulation A-4 of the BWM Convention allows ship operators to apply for exemptions from ballast water management on specified routes. An exemption requires conducting a scientifically robust risk assessment (RA) according to the Guidelines for risk assessment under Regulation A-4 of the convention (G7 Guidelines). One of the proposed RA approaches in the G7 Guidelines, species-specific RA, relies on the identification and selection of target species (TS). The approach has been applied to the Joint Harmonized Procedure (JHP), a regional RA scheme developed jointly by the coastal States of the Baltic Sea and North-East Atlantic Ocean through the two regional commissions - HELCOM and OSPAR.
COMPLETE aimed at delivering knowledge and tools to implement HELCOM’s roadmap for regional implementation of the outstanding issues on the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC) in the Baltic Sea and also assist relevant authorities in implementing Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council, aiming to protect native biodiversity and ecosystem services. The project continuation, COMPLETE PLUS, aimed at implementing the outcomes of the COMPLETE project.
In the COMPLETE PLUS project, the primary task of the research groups of the University of Helsinki and the South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences was to demonstrate and test the multi-criteria decision support tool for biofouling management developed in the COMPLETE project. A series of sessions were organized with potential end-users representing different backgrounds and countries. In total, five on-line meetings were held with participants from Denmark, Estonia, Finland and Latvia representing authorities, shipping and in-water-cleaning companies. In these sessions, the main findings of the tool were presented, the demonstration and testing of the tool was performed and valuable feedback considering the benefits and drawbacks of the tool and possible development were collected.